As a projection of ”soft power“ to the world, culture is key part of China's comprehensive national strength. With the further development of the country's economic and political reforms, cultural institutions also need to be modernized. While undertaking this cultural form, three important factors need to be considered.
Economic benefits of cultural marketization
As an intellectual product, culture plays an irreplaceable and indispensable role in national unity, social and political stability. But it also has a clear benefit to the economy. People's need for culture is broad and diverse, providing great potential for economic growth.
In 2010, the domestic box office exceeded 10 billion yuan (US$1.57 billion) and the total output of the digital publishing industry reached 90 billion yuan (US$14.17 billion).
When assessing the societal and economic benefits of culture, we should see social benefits as the priority while realizing that the inherent economic benefits of cultural development are intertwined with social goals.
Simultaneous development of commercial and non-commercial sectors
In China, most cultural departments and units are institutions, not companies. The government must enhance its investment in public cultural institutions to improve the services they provide for the public. In this sense, they should be allowed to continue their important work without being hindered by a lack of funds.
However, we must realize that in today's market economy, no institution can be guaranteed a lifetime of funding. To fill the gaps as well as garner additional public support and participation, public welfare institutions can also raise fund through public bidding, which will encourage non-government sectors to participate in cultural undertakings.
As for non-public cultural institutions, innovation is needed to improve China's products and services so they can compete in an increasingly crowded market. Successful cultural industries can fulfill the public's various multifaceted needs and become pioneers in their field.
There is evidence of the potential of China's cultural sector. From 2004 to 2008, the value of China's cultural industries grew by 22 percent on an annual basis, 3.6 percent higher than the country's gross domestic product (GDP) during the corresponding period. In 2009, value of cultural industry accounted for 2.5 percent of China's GDP, 0.4 percent higher than in 2004.
Despite this growth, the contribution from China's cultural industry to GDP is still very small compared to Western developed countries: The cultural sector currently composes 25 percent of U.S. GDP and 11 percent of GDP in the U.K. In China, there is still much more room for growth.
As long as we set different guidelines for the non-commercial and commercial undertakings, we can realize the simultaneous development of non-profit and for-profit cultural sectors.
The government's role in cultural promotion
The CPC's lead and initiatives are crucial to cultural reform and development. We must uphold the party's lead and the guiding role of Marxism to develop an advanced socialist culture. At the same time, we must carry on with the marketization of the country's socialist economy. In this way, making good use of the markets is the next step in the country's cultural reform.
To integrate the two directions, we need to foster social development, accelerate cultural legislation, modernize government functions, strengthen our cultural institutions and stick to law-based cultural reform.
The Chinese government is committed to establishing efficient management mechanism for cultural institutions. While setting the tone for the industry, China will also allow the market and private enterprises to play an indispensable role in the promotion, production and delivery of products and services to consumers.
The author is a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.
(This post was first published in Chinese and translated by Li Shen.)
Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of China.org.cn